It’s an annoying business. Human nature is such. We give our hearts out to someone or something and almost always, it leads to heartbreak. I’ve often wondered at our resilience, our ability to put up with several of these heart wrenching experiences and still emerge out of it all, stronger than ever.

He came into my life years ago, when I was a young girl. And he left as suddenly as he had come. What I hate about him is that he took a piece of my heart with him.

It was the summer of (not) 69, and we were spending our vacation in Kerala. I must have been around 14. One night, when Amma, Roshan and I were spending the night at my maternal grandparents’ house, (which was quite close to my paternal grandparents’ place. For future references, we shall call it the Padinjakara house) Appa walks in for dinner, with some exciting, unexpected news.

I got us a puppy!’ he says.

What! Appa! What breed? How old is he? Is it a he? What are we going to call him?’ The mother hen, daughter and son crowd around the grinning dad bombarding him with questions. ‘Well, you can come home and see if you want.’ On a typical day, Roshan and I preferred staying at the flat because there were other young kids we could hang out with. My dad’s parents, on the other hand, lived in a secluded house, and sometimes we ran out of things to do there. That night, though, there was no thinking twice. Rosh and I rushed back with Appa to the Padinjakara House. It was quite late when we arrived there. Appapa and Ammama had just finished their dinner and were about to turn in. There was a little cardboard box out in the veranda, and that’s when I first met him.

He was 40 days old, the size of my palm, and was shivering from cold.. He didn’t bark; just yelped softly in a way that made our hearts go out to him. I picked him up, nestled him on my lap to warm his up, and watched his eyelids droop sleepily.

That was the summer I first found love. We decided to call our brown dachshund baby Scott, after my father’s legendary old German Shepherd about whom we had only heard lovely tales. Scott used to sleep in a little cardboard box with me in Johnny Uncle’s room. (The Padinjakara House had three bedrooms. One that my grandparents slept in, one that my parents and brother slept in, and one tiny room that belonged to my grandparents’ youngest son, John, who is settled in Canada and would come to India only on rare occasions. Whenever the room wasn’t occupied by him, I used it, given my fondness for pretending to be all grown up and sleeping by myself. The room had a little cot for me, and we cleared Scott a spot for his little box and a blanket.

Now, both Rosh and I have always been very comfortable around animals, especially dogs. But this was the first time the two of us had one of our own, and although I was aware of the responsibilities it entailed, it was definitely a difficult relationship. The dog-cub barely slept. He hated lights out, and being put in his box for the night. There would be devastating yowls for about an hour after I would tuck him in. He would very successfully make me feel guilty, and I would just have to wrench myself out of bed to comfort him. My parents and brother were spared because they were in another room, but he never let me, his ‘hooman’, sleep in peace. I’d be woken up before dawn to his scraping and yelping, and I would be forced to let him sleep on the bed with me in order to catch a few more winks myself. More often than not, there’d be a nasty little surprise left under the bed for me. It goes without saying that my brother and I had to do the cleaning up.

Scott became part of our life and turned it upside down. His growth could be measured in phases, too. For the first couple of weeks, he wasn’t trained and would leave us presents all around the house. Spanking him would result in him giving us such an aggrieved, ashamed look that we would feel terrible in spite of ourselves. He loved milk, and warm clothes. I remember Appa teaching us how to train him to sit still, by offering and refusing him treats. I also remember Amma, Rosh and myself bathing him very carefully with lukewarm water, using shampoo and talcum powder and wrapping him up in a towel afterwards. Everyone loved him. I don’t even recall Appapan, who was a stern man, yelling at Scott boy. The kid just had this way with his eyes; he could speak through them.

Then came the horrifying (and hilarious when not horrifying) stage when he grew big enough to get out of the box on his own. Putting him to sleep became even harder. He started teething, and that brought forth a new set of atrocities. Clothes would be dragged off the laundry line and strewn across the muddy ground. Shoes lost their pairs and would be found, hours later, all chewed up, in some cubby hole of his. Amma’s brand new blow-dryer emerged one morning with its wires all chewed up. Scott used do love playing around with us too, snapping at our fingers and toes while we tickled him. If we went out for the day, he’d stand by the gate with his tail between his legs and his ears drooping, his eyes looking like they’d well up with tears at any moment. And he was always there, waiting by the gate, when we returned. Scott was a happy dog. He’d run around barking madly at birds and cats. Once, he slipped out of the house and onto the road, and I suffered a mini heart attack. I realized then what Amma suffered anytime Roshan or I did something silly or careless.

That was one of the most beautiful summer vacations of my life. Days were spent playing in the house or exploring the back yard with Scott. Spare time, if any, was spent cleaning dog poop, putting away books and things of value at a safe height, and eating both my Ammamas’ drool-worthy food. We watched him grow, from an unstable,, shivering mite into a strong, intelligent dog in the course of two months.

And then it was time for us to leave. We had to leave Scott behind to Ammama’s assurances that he would be well taken care of, till the next summer. He realized too that something was afoot, with all our packed suitcases being loaded into the Taxi. He would just follow us with a dogged devotion, willing us to stay with those eyes of his. I felt a big lump in my throat as I knelt down to say goodbye to him, shake his paw one last time. I turned back to look at him as my grandmother closed the gates behind our car. We broke one doggy’s heart that day.

School and life resumed in Fujairah, with only the occasional call that Appa would make to Ammama, during which Rosh or I would eagerly take the receiver to ask about Scott. Ammama would reply that he was fine, but very sad that we weren’t around anymore.

I remember the day it happened. We had our Open house at school, and against our wishes, were being dragged by our parents to the meetings they had with all our teachers. We came back home and Appa and Amma decide to break the news to us. Ammama had called to say that Scott got bit by a snake that evening, and was no more. Looking back, I cant recall anything about my report card, or how I had done that term. All I remember is Roshan and me going back silently to our rooms and closing the doors behind us. I sat at my table with a book open before me, and felt everything going blurry as I started tearing up.. Rosh and I didn’t talk to each other about Scott. I didn’t talk to Appa or Amma about him either, though they tried to broach the subject several times. In fact, this is the first time I’m opening up about him. And to him.

Dear Scott Boy,

I am sorry I left you like that, all of a sudden, but you could have gone a little easier on me, couldn’t you? I had promised you I’d come back, hadn’t I? Couldn’t you have waited a few more months?

I get that you must have been hurt and angry with us. But old boy, this was tough retaliation. It hurt too much. You were my first heart break, Scotty.. You were also the reason I never got too attached to a dog again. But now I somehow feel I am slowly getting ready to try again. I think about you quite often. Especially your eyes at the gate when we left you, and how you used to look when you would do something naughty and realize we were going to punish you. I hope you’re enjoying Doggy heaven, and that there are plenty of bones for you to chew on. And I hope you remember me.

Love and prayers,

Yours,

Kavya Chechi

Featured Image Credits: http://hdwallpapersrocks.com/dog/golden-dog-play-with-water-bubbles/

About The Author

Kavya Joseph

Just a girl on a quest to understand herself and her country.

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